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Analysis for 'Sports'

  • 5 Reasons Why CBS’s Live Streaming of Super Bowl 50 is a Big Deal

    Continuing the trend of making live sports available to viewers across a wide range of devices, CBS will stream live coverage of this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 broadcast to viewers both online and through an expanded network of over-the-top connected TV devices, including Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Microsoft 10. This decision by CBS and the NFL to allow, and even encourage, the consumption of the premier sports event of the year through connected TV devices is significant for 5 reasons:

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  • NFL's Plan for OTT Streaming of Thursday Night Football Raises Many Questions

    The NFL announced yesterday that it was splitting broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football in 2016 and 2017 between CBS and NBC. The WSJ reported that each network will pay $225 million for the annual rights, a 50% increase over the $300 million per season that CBS alone had been paying.

    But the higher broadcast fees are just the beginning of how the NFL will more fully monetize the upcoming seasons. More intriguing were the sentences from the NFL’s press release: "The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. A deal announcement is expected in the near future."

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  • FreeWheel’s Q3 Video Monetization Report Shows Continued Industry Growth

    FreeWheel has released its Q3 ’15 Video Monetization Report (VMR), which reveals the continuation of a number of important industry trends. Both ad views and video views grew 28% vs. Q3 ’14, consistent with growth rates seen over the past few quarters.

    Live video was once again the fastest-growing genre, with a 113% year-over-year growth, compared to 30% for long-form and 9% for short-form. Sports was again the biggest driver of live with 63% of sports video viewed live, compared with 17% of news video viewed live (other genres were in low single digits). News had the biggest proportion of short-form (76%), while Entertainment (60%) ad Kids (59%) had the biggest proportion of long-form.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #290: Deep-Dive Q&A With Sports TV Expert Lee Berke

    I'm pleased to present the 290th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we do an in-depth Q&A with our guest Lee Berke, who runs LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, Inc. Lee has helped dozens of teams create and implement sports TV networks. He has a wealth of insights into the role of sports in pay-TV and how online and mobile video are causing leagues and teams to adjust their traditional distribution strategies.

    Sports are a key driver of increased pay-TV rates and as VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been writing for years (examples here, here, here) about the billions of dollars non-fans pay each year in the form of a “sports tax” - subsidizing expensive sports networks they never watch. With the advent of robust, inexpensive OTT entertainment programming options, the pay-TV multichannel bundle has come under more pressure than ever, with subscriber losses peaking in Q2 ’15.

    In our Q&A with Lee we explore these issues and how he sees OTT impacting teams, leagues and sports TV networks. Lee believes TV will remain the most significant revenue source in sports for the foreseeable future, but also sees the leagues more aggressively experimenting online to serve a new generation of fans. Lee also describes how he’s advising teams, particularly on how to maintain flexibility and capitalize on new technologies.      

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (29 minutes, 26 seconds)

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  • Whoa, With NHL Deal, Did MLBAM Just Become the Most Disruptive Force in Sports TV?

    Yesterday, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a multi-faceted 6-year deal in which MLBAM will pay $600 million to take over distribution and operations of NHL’s GameCenter LIVE and Center Ice online subscription services (including via pay-TV operators), manage all of NHL’s web sites, manage all of NHL Network’s operations (including taking over ad sales) and jointly develop new digital products. As part of the deal, NHL is reportedly getting a 7%-10% stake in MLBAM, which is also reportedly going to be spun off (finally) from Major League Baseball. (clarification, per MLBAM spokesman, NHL's stake is in BAM Tech, the technology arm of MLBAM)

    That’s a mouthful, but what it amounts to is a major expansion in MLBAM’s scope of business, instantly morphing the company from being primarily a provider of technology services supporting rights-holders to being a multi-platform distribution company in its own right. As such, MLBAM may have just become the most disruptive force in sports TV, signaling to every broadcast and cable TV network which has an interest in sports TV -  from CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and on down the line - that the ground just shifted underneath them. Here’s why.

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  • Disney CEO: Long-Term, There's an "Inevitability" to ESPN Being Sold Directly to Consumers

    Disney CEO Bob Iger was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning (see below embed) and offered a surprising long-term vision for ESPN, saying, “Eventually, ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumer, where there’s an engagement that ESPN will know who their consumers are, will use that information to customize the product to enable personalization, to engage more effectively and offer advertisers more value as well. That’s longer-term. I think there’s an inevitability to that, but I don’t think it’s right around the corner.”

    It was the first time that I’ve heard Iger articulate so clearly how he sees ESPN’s future unfolding. Iger made the comments in the context of describing the huge distribution, promotion and consumption changes roiling the media landscape. Iger observed that despite a fall-off in pay-TV subscriptions, he doesn’t see the ecosystem changing significantly in the next 5 years, and that it was impossible for anyone predict with conviction how the media world will look 10 years from now.

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  • Tennis Channel is Succeeding With Converged TV Everywhere-OTT Model

    With talk of cord-cutting everywhere these days, independent ad-supported cable TV network Tennis Channel is showing early signs of success with a compelling new model in which linear, TV Everywhere and OTT converge to super-serve audiences and reinforce the value of sports on pay-TV.

    At the 2014 French Open, Tennis Channel launched "Tennis Channel Plus" which runs $12/month or $80/year. Tennis Channel Plus now provides access to over 650 live events per year and over 1,000 hours of on-demand viewing. This means Tennis Channel adds broader coverage of tournaments it already broadcasts on linear, plus streaming of tournaments it hasn't previously covered.

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  • 67% of Pay-TV Subscribers Don't Cite Sports As Justifying the Multichannel Bundle

    Here's some data that contradicts conventional wisdom: in a new survey from Clearleap, 67% of pay-TV subscribers said sports are not the reason they maintain a subscription, citing viewership of programs on other TV networks instead. Even sports fans didn't express a lot of enthusiasm for sports as justifying the multichannel bundle, with almost half citing other programs they watch as requiring a subscription.

    There has always been a strong industry consensus that live sports were the firewall for pay-TV's multichannel bundle. Even as entertainment programming has proliferated in OTT services and elsewhere, the only place to get marquee sports programming was on pay-TV. Therefore, the reasoning went, sports were the "glue" keeping subscribers on board.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #271: Revisiting Comcast-TWC Deal Failure; Verizon-ESPN Spat

    I'm pleased to present the 271st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    We had recorded last week's podcast just prior to the news that Comcast was dropping its merger bid for Time Warner Cable, so first up this week we share thoughts on why the deal collapsed.

    In my view, the perception of the deal transformed from being cable-centric to being broadband-centric, largely due to the rise of online video usage. As a result, Comcast, post-merger, having 57% of American broadband connections under the new 25 mbps definition, became a sticking point (never mind that it actually has 56% on its own, reflecting its aggressive broadband infrastructure upgrades).

    This is a key irony of the deal's failure - Comcast has invested billions in technology, but its woeful customer service ultimately undermines these investments and defines its reputation. In a hypothetical world where Comcast was a "most admired company," (like Apple, Amazon, etc.), I think it's quite possible regulators would have actually welcomed the Time Warner deal.

    We then turn our attention to Verizon's "Custom TV" packaging and ESPN's lawsuit. As I explained in Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?" I think Verizon is making a brazen move to reign in sports costs. Colin and I agree it's the most startling thing yet to happen in a tumultuous year for the pay-TV industry.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 6 seconds)

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  • Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?"

    We've seen a lot of surprising moves in the pay-TV industry in 2015, but at the top of the list has to be how Verizon is trying to put ESPN into a public relations headlock with its new "Custom TV" packaging plan.

    If you haven't been watching this closely, Verizon announced "Custom TV" last week. Under the plan, Verizon FiOS subscribers can take a base package of 45 channels, including the 4 broadcast TV networks, for $54.99 per month, and get 2 "channel packs" which are smaller groups of genre-based such as lifestyle, Entertainment, News & Info, Sports, etc. Additional channel packs are $10 per month.

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  • NBC Sports Live Extra App Now on Roku and Apple TV, For Authenticated Viewers Only

    NBC Sports Live Extra app is now available on both Roku and Apple TV, with the caveat that only authenticated pay-TV viewers will be able to access the app's 3,000 annual live sports streams. The move bolsters TV Everywhere, the pay-TV industry's initiative to enable access to content when, where and how viewers want it.

    Last week, I shared new research showing that heavy TV Everywhere users rate pay-TV a much stronger value than lighter users. This is a core TV Everywhere goal - to get viewers watching more TV and feeling better about their expensive monthly subscriptions so they're not tempted to switch to cheaper OTT options. Live sports in particular have been a hugely successful genre in TV Everywhere, as measured by FreeWheel.

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  • Dodgers Stalemate and Viacom's $785 Million Write-Down Epitomize OTT's Growing Impact

    Yesterday provided us with 2 excellent examples of how OTT is changing the video landscape and how the pay-TV ecosystem is struggling to adapt. The first example was the second straight LA Dodgers' opening day in which the majority of LA fans were not able to watch the game because SportsNet LA doesn't have deals with most of the area's pay-TV operators. The second example was the $785 million write-down announced by Viacom to cover the costs of an expected "strategic realignment."

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  • NFL Takes a Baby Step, Planning to Exclusively Stream a Single Game Next Season

    The NFL announced yesterday that it plans to exclusively stream a single game next season, a week 7 matchup from London between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The October 25th game will still be televised in the 2 home markets, starting at 9:30am ET, but elsewhere it will only be available online (though the NFL hasn't yet signed a digital distribution partner).

    Brian Rolapp, the NFL's EVP, Media, characterized the move as mainly an experiment, meant to impart as much learning as possible (he also maintained that TV is still the best distribution option). That sounds right to me, though how much can really be learned from streaming a single game is a bit unclear (e.g. advertiser interest? technical or delivery quality? audience size?).

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  • Why HBO Now is the Biggest Threat Yet to Pay-TV's Multi-Billion Dollar Sports Tax on Non-Fans

    In last Friday's podcast, Colin and I covered a lot of ground in assessing HBO Now's opportunities and risks. One of the points I raised, which I believe deserves much more attention in understanding HBO Now's disruptive potential, is how it threatens pay-TV's multi-billion dollar "sports tax" on non-fans.

    I've been writing about the sports tax - how non-fans effectively subsidize the cost of super-expensive sports networks such as ESPN and regional sports networks (RSNs) that they don't watch - for almost 5 years now. In a back-of-the-envelope analysis I did following a panel I sat on with Mark Cuban back in 2011, I estimated the annual tax on non sports fans amounted to at least $2 billion per year (4 years later, it's now much higher).

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  • Perspective What's this? Live Sports Viewing Creates Entry Point for TV Everywhere Adoption

    2014 was the year during which the "Big Game" became the "Really Big Game." From the Super Bowl and Sochi Olympics kicking off the year, to the college football Bowl Season closing it out. One could hardly turn around in 2014 without hearing of another programmer boasting cutting-edge streaming coverage of tent-pole sporting events or unprecedented depth of exposure for previously hard-to-find games.

    Live sports serve a dual function for programmers trying to expand their digital footprint. In addition to bringing significant numbers of viewers to ultra-premium, high-CPM ad inventory, live sports have also been deployed as an entry point - hooking new adopters and indoctrinating digital viewing habits.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #258 - Super Bowl Streaming

    I'm pleased to present the 258th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. In today's podcast Colin and I first explore the huge role online video has had in driving up the value of Super Bowl ads, which NBC now approximates at $10 million per spot. But despite the ads' tens of millions of incremental online views, we're both still somewhat mystified why the ads don't place more value on viewer engagement, a topic I explored yesterday.

    We then turn our attention to NBC's plan to stream 11 hours of programming on Sunday (including the game) without any TV Everywhere style authentication.

    As Colin explains, "Super Stream Sunday" is correctly focused on educating viewers about TV Everywhere. But Colin notes one big drawback, which is that the game won't be available on smartphones, since Verizon has the exclusive mobile streaming rights. That means smartphone-wielding millennials could be disappointed.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 52 seconds)

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  • Now Valued At $10 Million Apiece, Super Bowl Ads Still Mostly Lack Engagement

    Yesterday, NBCU's EVP of Sales and Sales Marketing Seth Winter announced that all of this Sunday's Super Bowl on-air and online ad units are now sold out. At $4.4-$4.5 million for on-air spots, these are the most expensive Super Bowl ads ever. Winter also reiterated something he said a few weeks ago: he believes a 30-second Super Bowl ad really provides a $10 million value "because of all the incremental exposure that the creative receives on all the different social media platforms like YouTube or publicity."

    The comment resonated with me, because way back in 2007, in "On the Road to the $10 Million Super Bowl Ad," I suggested that eventually Super Bowl would in fact reach this level (note that NBC isn't selling the ads for $10 million - yet. It's only saying that's their value).

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  • VideoSchmooze [VIDEO] - Sports' Pivotal Role in Driving TV Everywhere's Adoption

    This has been a significant year for TV Everywhere growth and no question, live sports has been the biggest driver. At the recent VideoSchmooze, one of our sessions explored how sports is playing a pivotal role in introducing TV Everywhere to millions of viewers and in turn, is creating a path to using TVE for entertainment programming as well.

    The session featured Brian Dutt (FreeWheel), Vito Forlenza (Comcast), Dina Juliano (NBCU) and Clark Pierce (FOX Sports), with Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia) moderating.

    The full session video is included below.

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  • Survey: 37% of Consumers Plan to Watch Super Bowl on Connected Devices

    YuMe has released results of a 500-person online survey about Super Bowl XLIX viewing intentions, finding surprisingly strong interest in watching the game via streaming. 37% of those surveyed said they plan to watch via a connected TV device, with 87% watching on TV, thereby implying lots of dual screen watching is in store.

    41% of respondents said it was important to watch the game on multiple devices, with 75% agreeing there's less chance of missing out when using multiple devices.

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  • Clearleap Announces Multiscreen Sports Solution

    Clearleap has announced a cloud-based multiscreen sports solution to support live-streamed games, near real-time highlights/clips and personalized playlists. Clearleap's Sports and Live TV Solution targets sports-oriented TV networks which recognize that today's fans demand always-on access across their multiple devices.

    The new Clearleap solution enables networks to ingest, process and deliver live and on-demand sports streams, supported by a network operations center aiming to provide 99.999% uptime. Obviously when it comes to live sports any hiccup in a live-stream that could risk missing the big play would be catastrophic. Clearleap provides a dashboard to manage and monitor real-time analytics of video delivery.

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